Machine Learning and Prediction in Fetal, Infant, and Toddler Neuroimaging: A Review and Primer

Dustin Scheinost*, Angeliki Pollatou, Alexander J. Dufford, Rongtao Jiang, Michael C. Farruggia, Matthew Rosenblatt, Hannah Peterson, Raimundo X. Rodriguez, Javid Dadashkarimi, Qinghao Liang, Wei Dai, Maya L. Foster, Chris C. Camp, Link Tejavibulya, Brendan D. Adkinson, Huili Sun, Jean Ye, Qi Cheng, Marisa N. Spann, Max RolisonStephanie Noble, Margaret L. Westwater

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Predictive models in neuroimaging are increasingly designed with the intent to improve risk stratification and support interventional efforts in psychiatry. Many of these models have been developed in samples of children school-aged or older. Nevertheless, despite growing evidence that altered brain maturation during the fetal, infant, and toddler (FIT) period modulates risk for poor mental health outcomes in childhood, these models are rarely implemented in FIT samples. Applications of predictive modeling in children of these ages provide an opportunity to develop powerful tools for improved characterization of the neural mechanisms underlying development. To facilitate the broader use of predictive models in FIT neuroimaging, we present a brief primer and systematic review on the methods used in current predictive modeling FIT studies. Reflecting on current practices in more than 100 studies conducted over the past decade, we provide an overview of topics, modalities, and methods commonly used in the field and under-researched areas. We then outline ethical and future considerations for neuroimaging researchers interested in predicting health outcomes in early life, including researchers who may be relatively new to either advanced machine learning methods or using FIT data. Altogether, the last decade of FIT research in machine learning has provided a foundation for accelerating the prediction of early-life trajectories across the full spectrum of illness and health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBiological psychiatry
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Deep learning
  • Electroencephalogy
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Functional near-infrared spectroscopy
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Neonates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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